Name Sharon Trotter
Location Scotland, UK
Name of your business/group/your role/job Founder and Director of TIPS® Ltd – mother, midwife and parenting consultant specialising in breastfeeding and baby skincare
URL www.tipslimited.co.uk and www.sharontrotter.org.uk
Twitter and facebook handles @TIPSLtd and www.facebook.com/TIPSLtd
Why do you love all things pregnancy birth and baby?
My maternal grandmother had eight children, all of whom were breastfed for two or three years, until the next baby appeared! This is natural family spacing in practice and was the norm in the 1940s. My mother had four children and although attitudes to breastfeeding had started to change, she too breastfed because of her first hand knowledge. At that time feeding on demand was not encouraged and stricter feeding regimes lead to an imbalance of the supply and demand, so mums tended to stop breastfeeding when babies were only a few months old. I also had four godsons and my youngest brother was born when I was seventeen years old, so looking after babies came naturally to me, long before I had children of my own! With Mum breastfeeding my brother, I was also lucky to observe this up close, so to me this just felt like the norm. As a midwife and mother of five children, I have been helping new parents for over thirty years. I have personally breastfed my own children for more than seven years in total! The youngest stopped feeding just before his third birthday. My first passion is breastfeeding, closely followed by baby skincare.
What made you decide to become a midwife?
From the tender age of 11, I knew I wanted to be a nurse and after my secondment in the maternity ward I decided I wanted to become a midwife too. I qualified as a state registered nurse (SRN) in 1982 in Dorset, and moved to London in 1983 to commence my midwifery training at Queen Charlotte’s Maternity Hospital. I have very fond memories of my time as a student midwife. I feel privileged to have met so many new parents since my first delivery in September 1983. I even stayed in contact with some of them… their ‘newborns’ are now in their late twenties!
Very special events that stand out include my first home delivery (while on my community placement in West London) and treasured memories cuddling babies on night shift in the ‘night nursery’ before ‘24/7 rooming in’ was introduced. As a passionate advocate of rooming in and exclusive breastfeeding I would like to (maybe controversially) stick up for the night nursery which has long since disappeared. Rather than upsetting the establishment of successful breastfeeding and contrary to popular belief, night nurseries actually afforded new mums the chance to rest between feeds. They knew their baby was being well looked after and we could take baby to Mum awake and changed and ready for feeding. I especially remember a first time mother who was having a terrible time getting feeding established. Supported by a midwife, she was able to experience a wonderful feed in a dark postnatal ward – this gave her the confidence she needed to keep going. It was only when baby was brought back to the nursery that we realised two babies had been mixed up! The baby of the first time mother had been given to an experienced mum and subsequently experienced a free master class in breastfeeding. No harm done and both mothers were none the wiser. Can you imagine the fallout this would cause today!
I am extremely grateful to have gained such a wonderful grounding in general nursing before specialising in midwifery. I believe knowing how the body works when it is non-pregnant greatly helped me understand how women adjust to pregnancy. I finally qualified as a registered midwife (RM) in February 1985 and moved to Scotland with my new husband.
In 2003 returned to university and graduated with a BSc in Advanced studies in midwifery at the age of 44 in November 2005.
How did a midwife come to own a publishing company? And why name it TIPS?
I have been helping women breastfeed for almost 30 years. Being passionate about breastfeeding I could not understand why some mums struggled to feed their babies in such a natural and instinctive way. I have breastfed my own five babies for a total of 7 years so I picked up many tips along the way. In 2002 I decided to write down all my breastfeeding advice and tips, just to see what resulted. Within three short weeks I had the basis of a book!
Having completed a full draft I sent copies to friends, relatives, mothers, fathers, grannies, granddads, midwifery colleagues, business contacts, media personalities, breastfeeding associations, agents and publishers – to gauge interest. Again and again I received the comment: “If only your book had been around when I started to breastfeed.”
This spurred me on. I had been unable to persuade a publisher to take me on (even though their comments were extremely supportive) but the interest was so great I decided to start my own company and self-publish. Thus “Trotters Independent Publishing Services” (TIPS) was born: my name is Trotter, my project was definitely independent and I was publishing my own book – which incidentally contains many useful tips! When it came to choosing a logo, the duck seemed an obvious choice, as it is often associated with bathing. Breastfeeding and neonatal skincare are serious subjects, but it is vital for me to add an element of humour in everything I do! ‘Trotters Independent’ has a certain ring about it, I think you will agree, and the duck gives it an extra fun factor!
What about baby skincare?
After breastfeeding, my second passion is baby skincare. This is why I have spent years researching and writing about both topics and have been published in professional journals (see below). My recommendations for babycare are now policy within my local health board, and many maternity units in other areas are following this lead.
TIPS® Ltd is a stakeholder with the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) whose current Postnatal Care Guidelines (2006) recommends that cleansers/baby wipes no longer be used on newborn skin. I plan to continue raising awareness of safe baby skincare methods with parents and healthcare professionals throughout the UK and beyond. All my work is available online -go to www.tipslimited.com and www.sharontrotter.org.uk (resources for professionals).
TIPS® has evolved since launch in 2004. The TIPS Awards Scheme was launched in 2007. With this scheme, we carry out independent market research into carefully sourced baby and toddler products. These products are reviewed by highly motivated Parent Testers who have signed up voluntarily on the website.
Baby wipes were the first products tested by TIPS. Since then we have completed 14 standard trials and 12 one-off trials (covering 39 categories of products), and allocated over 270 TIPS awards.
Only products that comply with our strict criteria can be included in a TIPS trial – this is part of our robust selection process, and it means that every product tested by TIPS is already a winner.
Over 1000 Parents have joined the TIPS online community. When selected for a trial, participants receive products to review and are asked to provide their comments using a questionnaire. I collate, evaluate and analyse Testers’ feedback.
On completion of the judging process, awards are allocated and the results are published on www.tipslimited.com.
Parents who want to become TIPS® Testers can register online*: http://www.tipslimited.co.uk/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.registration&Itemid=183 (*don’t forget to accept the ‘cookies’ before registering)
My aim in all that I do with TIPS® is to give parents all the information they need to make the right parenting decisions for their family. My advice is always independent, realistic, evidence-based and above all common-sense!
More recently I was invited to become the editorial consultant on The National Parent Guide – this publication covers all aspects of parenting from birth to five years and is given out at UK Register Offices. It is also available online at www.thenpg.org.uk
By being involved in this project, I hope to reach a wider audience of new parents looking for unbiased and impartial advice, and spread the word about the TIPS® online community.
What is the most important piece of advice you would give a pregnant woman?
Becoming a mother will change your life forever! Listen to your inner voice: your own instincts rarely let you down.
What is the most important piece of advice you would give a new mum?
It will change your life forever! Listen to your inner voice, your own instincts rarely let you down.
Do you have any great tips for childbirth or a ‘must have?’
Be realistic, surround yourself with people you trust and remember it’s only one day!
What is your personal birth philosophy?
My philosophy for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and skincare (not just for babies but for everyone) is: ‘less is always more’ and ‘keep it natural’
What are your thoughts on preparing for childbirth?
Speak to someone you trust and try not to be taken in by the clever marketing of a thousand companies who will try to persuade you to buy any number of products that you will never use! Why not have a look at our definitive baby checklist (it was written by TIPS® Parent Testers for all parents) its available here http://www.tipslimited.co.uk/images/stories/other/baby-checklist.pdf
Download free TIPS® factsheets, FAQs and our Babycare – back to basics™ leaflet on the TIPS website: http://www.tipslimited.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=149&Itemid=254
Your top tips for getting back to work after birth and working around your family?
Don’t start worrying about it too early. Enjoy the early months of your baby’s life and when the time comes to return to work you will be surprised at how quickly you can adapt to new routines. The transition to parenthood is much harder than going back to work so take one day at a time. Once you have your childcare organised you will be fine. If you are breastfeeding there is no need to store loads of breast milk ahead of time (a couple of feeds will do) as it is much better for your baby to drink your milk fresh. Just express at work (employers have a legal obligation to provide you with a place where you can express and store your milk) then your baby can be given this straight from the fridge the following day. If your baby refuses to drink from a cup or a bottle don’t worry: they will not come to any harm, even if they take nothing for your whole shift. If all else fails your baby can be brought to you for a feed until they get used to their new routine. Remember that you will have that wonderful reunion to look forward to at the end of your working day. That’s when you can snuggle up together and enjoy the rush of endorphins (I call them happy hormones) that breastfeeding help to release. The best ‘natural high’ you can get!
If you have any questions, you can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org